Lisa’s Story

My husband and I started trying to conceive shortly after our wedding.  After 6 months without a positive pregnancy test, we visited my OB/GYN. Being 35 at this point, I was the proud recipient of the label “elderly” in my women’s health file, so we had no time to waste.  During that visit, I suggested that my progesterone may be low based on some symptoms that I had been experiencing. The doctor laughed at me for suggesting this, but said he would test my progesterone to “humor me”.  There was one single blood draw that showed that it was in “normal range”. So, he wished us well, and referred us to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE).

Basic tests with the RE were inconclusive and “Unexplained Infertility” was the diagnosis.  Course of treatment options – intrauterine insemination (IUI) followed by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) if needed. We didn’t feel great about either option, but decided to move forward with IUI.  This is when God stepped in and shifted our course in a way that we couldn’t have imagined.

I had a cyst on my ovary

The RE would not start me on the medication to trigger ovulation for IUI until the cyst was gone.  He wanted to give it a few months to see if it would resolve on its own. If it didn’t, I’d need surgery to remove it.  With his prediction of it not resolving on its own, I was added to the surgery schedule for three months out. I was devastated that our efforts would have to be delayed because of a cyst.

However, this delay turned out to be God’s timing to show us the way.  

We signed up for a weekend retreat for Catholic couples experiencing infertility being held in West Virginia.  Infertility was taking its toll on us emotionally and spiritually. So, this retreat, at a minimum, would be a nice weekend away.  We had no idea what goodness God had in store for us.  

We shared the weekend with other couples who were going through the same thing.  They knew the pain we were feeling. For the first time, we felt like we were not alone.  The clergy provided such amazing hope and insight. We prayed, we cried, and we hoped. Over the course of that weekend, my husband and I had our faith restored.  

I had two solid “take-aways” that weekend: 

  1.  Jesus got through the pain of Good Friday because he knew that Easter Sunday was coming.  The pain of infertility was our “Good Friday”. Hold on, walk with God, and have faith that our “Easter Sunday” is coming too.  
  2. NaPro Technology as a treatment option.  NaPro looked at infertility as a symptom of an underlying issue, not as a diagnosis itself.  I left the weekend with the name of a doctor about 2 hours from our hometown.

When we returned from the retreat, I scheduled an appointment with the NaPro practice and called the RE to cancel my surgery.  We were completely shifting gears, and it felt like this was just where God wanted us.

NaPro testing was intense.  A month of blood draws to monitor my hormones throughout my cycle and a follicular ultrasound series to watch and confirm ovulation.  After the testing, it was determined that my progesterone starts out normal, but falls drastically towards the end of my cycle, making it impossible for a fertilized egg to implant, and easily corrected through medication.  (take that, Dr. “Humor Me”) The next step was laparoscopic surgery to look for/correct any issues. A nearly 6 hour surgery found and removed endometriosis AND opened blocked fallopian tubes. Oh, and they got that cyst that was in there too.   I remember coming out of anesthesia and asking my husband if they found anything wrong. His response was, “Yes, a lot. But it’s all fixed.” Praise God.

We conceived in the second month after surgery. Sadly, this baby was not meant for this world, and we miscarried at 8 weeks. I would like to say that I handled myself with grace and dignity through this time, but it was quite the opposite. My heart was broken. I was so angry with God. I’m not proud of how I felt towards God during that time, but I am so grateful that He can still love us through those ugly times. God was not done with our story yet, but I was too wounded to see it. I somehow pulled it together and remembered that this was part of our Good Friday. Our Easter was coming.

On Easter Sunday 2014, two months after our miscarriage, we had another positive pregnancy test. Our due date, Christmas Eve. And this time, the pregnancy would be a healthy one, giving us our beautiful daughter, Olivia Noelle. And what a perfect gift she is!

When we were walking through the pain of infertility, our “Good Friday”, it was often hard to not lose hope.  We couldn’t see our outcome, couldn’t see what wonderful joy God had in store for us.  Putting one foot in front of the other, and trying our best to maintain our faith, brought us to our beautiful “Easter Sunday”.

For we walk by faith, not by sight

2 Corinthians 5:7

Lisa lives in State College, Pa with her husband, Ken and daughter, Olivia. She has spent her entire career helping others through difficult times, including the past 17 years working in the addiction treatment field. Lisa’s struggle to become a mother has forever changed how she looks at the world and the importance of never losing sight of our everyday blessings.

Debbie’s Story

Stage 4 lung cancer – words nobody wants to hear. As a nonsmoker, shock was my initial feeling when the Dr. told me of my diagnosis. As I started on my cancer journey, as devastated as I was, I knew God was with me. I trusted that He would take care of me.

Before my initial appointment to learn the course of my treatment, my family and I visited our local cancer center assuming I would be spending my days there being treated with IV chemo. My family and I prepared for me to lose my hair and all the list of side-effects that I often envisioned with chemotherapy. However, GOD had other plans for me.  

By His grace and mercy, He put me in the hands of Dr. Daniel Petro and his staff at The Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh, Pa. By his good grace, I learned my type of cancer was caused by a gene mutation – anaplastic lymphoma kinase-positive or also known as ALK+. While I don’t believe there is such thing has a ‘good’ cancer, I would learn that this type of cancer can be treated with targeted therapy and can have positive outcomes, which consists of 8 oral pills a day. Praise the Lord, no IV chemo.  

It’s been quite the journey though and one that certainly has not always felt easy. It started by wrestling with the insurance company to justify the need for the medication. A battle that often continues and feels daunting to justify a medication that could save my life.  This past July marked 2 years since my diagnosis. Every day, I pray “Lord, I know I’m healthy and I’m going to live.” The medication has not come without side-effects though. I struggle daily with digestive issues, which at times can impact my daily routine. One of my favorite things is the sun. I love the warm rays hitting my face; however, the medication doesn’t allow for me to be in direct sunlight. To even sit on my front porch, my calming place, I have to first make sure I have my special sunscreen applied, my hat is on, and I’m consistently aware of whether I’m in direct sunlight – or I pay the consequence of what can only be describe as burning from the inside out. My entire life has changed, this is my new normal.  But when I’m not feeling well or I can’t sit in the sun as I would like, I boldly say, “Not today Satan” and pray to God for patience.

With every pill I take I say a prayer asking God to continue to target the cancer and praise Him for all He’s already done.  I have been told numerous times that I have such a positive attitude. I can only attribute this to the power of prayer, the many wonderful people praying for me, and the support of my family – it’s what keeps me going. As of today, the mass on my lung as shrunk to what the doctor describes to be similar to a scab and my lymph nodes have deflated back to normal size.  I thank God every day for my shrinkage and the progress thus far.

Stage 4 lung cancer – words nobody wants to hear, but words I will not allow to defeat me or be able to steal my joy.

November is lung cancer awareness month, it’s also the month we focus on thankfulness and gratitude, as well as of tomorrow, I praise God for seeing another birthday. Today I am thankful for my family, friends, and that God has given me the strength to bear this sickness which I have been afflicted. Even in the struggle, He remains to be good. Thanks be to GOD.

With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation

Psalms 91:16
Samuel and one of his favorite people, Febbie.

Debbie lives in Central Pa with her husband of 45 years, Gary, and has 2 children, Chris and Danielle. Debbie is the proud grandmother to Alex (25) and Evan (18), she is also ‘Febbie’ to her youngest grandson, Samuel (4).